Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Balch House

Visiting colonial homes is always fun but when it's the home of an ancestor, it makes it extra special. Our tour was given by 91-year-old, Nancy Peabody Hood, who has been living here and welcoming visitors for over 40 years. She lives in an apartment that adjoins these four rooms and goes up and down the steep stairs multiple times a day. It was a joy to visit with her while touring the house. Unfortunately, she shared that she will be moving into an apartment soon and the house will no longer be occupied. If you want a tour with this special lady, you need to plan to visit soon. There is a virtual tour with her here. Click on the house to download the video.

John Balch was one of the men sent to New England by the Dorchester Company to settle a fishing colony that started on Cape Ann and relocated to Salem on the Bass River Side that would become Beverly.

The three sons of John Balch:
  1. Benjamin was born about 1629 and married three times. His first wife was Sarah Gardner, who died April 5, 1686. His second wife was Abigail Clarke, who died January 1, 1690, aged about 55 years. His third wife was Grace Mallett. 
  2. John was born about 1631 and married Mary Conant, daughter of immigrant Roger Conant. She would marry William Dodge, Jr. after John's death. 
  3. Freeborn was born about 1634 and by January 20, 1658, he was presumed dead as his estate was being administered by Walter Price of Salem and Benjamin is purchasing the land Freeborn inherited from their father unless "the abovesaid Freeborn Balch appear to be alive." 

Pretty windows

Sign outside

The front side of the house
The back of the house

The first room with the guestbook. It is estimated by a local house historian that it was only about half this size when originally built. That would mean an entire family living in one room, the size of a very small bedroom. There were no closets - only chests. 
The first room corner
The first room fireplace
This room was added for son, Benjamin and his family. That included his 13 children! This fireplace was modified in the 1700s to include a dutch oven. 
The other side of the second room
The bedroom above the first room - portraits are of Nathaniel & Mary (Fletcher) Balch. Nathaniel was the 4th great-grandson of immigrant John Balch. 
The other side of the bedroom over the first room 
The corner of the bedroom - 1640 chest and old book box with a Balch Bible. A cutout reveals the bricks used for insulation. They were made from the abundant clay in the area.
Mary Conant Balch was the son of John Balch, Jr. This is the other upstairs bedroom.
Mary's room - one of the tiniest colonial beds that I've seen.
Mary's room
Mary's room

John Balch
Benjamin Balch
Mary (Balch) Stone
Ruth (Stone) Morgan
Luke Morgan
Samuel Morgan
Martha (Morgan) Yates
Moses Yates
Gilbert W. Yates
Estes G. Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


  1. We share the same line down through Mary (Balch) Stone. Did you pick up a copy of the Balch genealogy while you were there? I worked with Robin Hodgkins on my line for the book. It was fun to see my name in it when it was published and distributed for the first time at the Balch reunion last year!

    1. I didn't purchase a copy of the book. It's on my wishlist though.